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I have to admit that despite being a straight, 22 year old guy I have
always had a weakness for teen films so I was looking forward to
Lindsay Lohan's (who really impressed me in 'Freaky Friday' and the
much underrated 'Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen') latest.
It exceeded my expectations.
Lindsay is on great form, instantly likable as Cady and believable both as a regular girl and a "regulation hottie". This girl is one of the best comic actresses of her generation and has created a fully rounded character it is difficult not to root for. Not that she carries the film alone.
Of the adults Tim Meadows does sterling work in translating his character with relatively few lines. Neil Flynn (familiar as the Janitor from 'Scrubs') is even better with some great facial expressions as a father as much at sea in suburban America as his daughter. As for Tina Fey... a terrific performance of course and she is still as cute as she was on Saturday Night Live but where she really shines is in the screenplay which sounds real enough (at least for a teen film) and has some razor sharp areas (like Coach Carr's 'lessons').
Of course the key group is the titular Mean Girls themselves - Regina (Rachel McAdams), Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) and Karen (Amanda Seyfried). Rachel McAdams creates a memorable High School tyrant, malicous, power mad and cruel but not entirely virtue free. She'd screw you over in a heartbeat if you stepped on her turf, but the nonthreatening Gretchen is allowed some reward for loyalty. Gretchen herself, played by the delectable Lacey Chabert is a character of her own, not just a cardboard minion to follow orders. Neurotic, shallow, desperate, beautiful, loyal and rather uncertain she is perhaps the saddest and most sympathetic of the Plastics - a girl who certainly has the looks and money to make it to the top of the pyramid but who lacked the will or the certainty. Not a problem with Karen (Amanda Seyfried) who has an admirable certainty of herself and her abilities. In one of the films best lines after a telling off from Regina, Cady tries to comfort her:
Cady: You're not stupid, Karen.
To which Karen replies thoughtfully (without a hint of bitterness or anger):
Karen: No, I am, actually. I'm failing everything.
Indeed she is. Karen is an airhead, and if not actively proud of it, at least accepting. She doesn't seem cruel herself, possibly because she is simply too shallow and dense, but she doesn't seem a bad person. Which for the second minion (Gretchen outranks her) to the villainous is quite a remarkable achievement.
Finally I must mention Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Franzese as Janice and Damian respectively, the outsiders we are rooting for, in theory. They do good work, though I found them slightly dry next to the endlessly dysfunctional Plastics (though that may be something to do with me finding Lacey Chabert much more attractive than Daniel Franzese!)
Overall a very good piece of work from all concerned. If you like teen movies then you'll find this a very good one. If you don't, well hold your nose and try it anyway, you might be pleasantly surprised!
Lindsay Lohan plays a teen girl trying to get along at a new high
school. This time, she plays a girl home schooled in Africa, whose
first experience at a public school is marred by a clique of nasty
girls called the Plastics, who use gossip and other torture techniques
to try to ruin her social life.
The story makes it sound like another generic teen film but this one is actually quite funny and realistic. The most cynical person will point out that this is a cheap rip off of Heathers and they are similar. While Heathers is a good movie, mean Girls is an even better movie. I think Mean Girls is very good for a number of reasons. First, the script is actually creative and smart. Tina Fey seems to understand that teens want comedies they can relate to and she did that with Mean Girls. Of course, there were a few lame scenes but nothing that kills the film. Tina Fey should leave SNL and focus on her career in movies.
Second, the acting is very good and convincing. Rachel McAdams offers the best and funniest performance as Regina. Her character is very mean (hence the title) yet I found it so hard to actually hate her. She has this charm that sucks the audience in on her and its so hard to hate her. Lindsay Lohan also gives a good performance as Cady. Her best scenes are with Rachel. They have very good chemistry together. The other plastics are played by Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried. They also give good performances and the scenes that have all the plastics together are very entertaining. The rest of the supporting cast are pretty good and Tina Fey also has a small role as Cady's math teacher.
Another reason why Mean Girls is so good is because it's actually funny for people over the age of 21. It's not just for teens but also for adults. Mark Waters is proving to be very good at directing harmless comedies like Freaky Friday and this one. He keeps the film short yet enormously entertaining. I really don't understand how someone could actually give this movie a one. I understand some people finding it over the top or stupid but it doesn't deserve a one. In the end, this smart and funny teen movie deserves to be seen. Rating 8/10
The teen-movie genre returns with "Mean Girls," and it comes back with
a vengeance. What could have been a tired and clichéd retread of
"Heathers" is actually a clever and witty flick thanks to the talents
of screenwriter Tina Fey. Fey, head writer for "Saturday Night Live"
and co-anchor of their "Weekend Update," has an amazing flair for
satire, and what better way to showcase it than with a analytical
glimpse at the world of high school cliques? Lindsay Lohan is Cady, the
previously home-schooled daughter of two zoologists, growing up in the
African wilderness while Mom and Dad conduct their research. When the
'rents decide to settle down, Cady gets her first taste of public
schooling, which is almost as wild as the jungles and safaris she's
used to. Cady is introduced to the different factions that populate the
cafeteriaincluding the nympho band geeks, the nerdy Asians, the cool
Asians, the varsity jocks and of course, the Plastics, teen royalty led
by the manipulative Regina George (Rachel McAdams).
Cady is encouraged to infiltrate the Plastics by her new friends Janice (Lizzy Caplan), a gothy and arty outcast who possesses a Janaene Garafalo-style wit, and the flamboyantly out-and-proud Damian (Daniel Franzese), who fears the Plastics but admires their fabulousness. Cady agrees to the sabotage scheme, but it's not long before she succumbs to the glamorous life of the Plastics and starts to engage in their underhanded activities, such as writing in their "Burn Book," in which nasty (and hilarious) things are jotted down about every girl in their high school.
It all might sound like the typical teen fare, but the result is nothing like that. The cast is surprisingly flawless, from Lohan (who brings a depth to her role that Hilary Duff could only ever dream of achieving) to the entire supporting cast, which is filled with current "SNL" members and alums. Fey herself shows up along with Tim Meadows as sardonic members of the high school faculty, while Ana Gasteyer and Amy Poehler portray parents who just don't understand. Poehler steals every scene she's in as Regina's "cool mom," desperately trying to fit in by doing things like offering minors alcohol at her home, because she'd rather have them drinking there than somewhere else.
The younger members of the cast don't let the veterans walk away with the whole show though. Caplan and Franzese own their roles, Franzese particularly when Damian displays his adulation for Christina Aguilera during a holiday talent show. The other members of the Plastics shine as well. Besides the deliciously vindictive McAdams as the Queen Bee, the crew includes former "Party of Five" actress Lacey Chabert as the gossipy Gretchen and Amanda Seyfried as the clueless Karen, who's not above making out with her first cousin (because "there's cousins, and then there's first cousins and second cousins ").
Fey, with the help of director Mark Waters ("Freaky Friday," "The House of Yes"), has infused the film with her trademark comedic brilliance. The jokes and gags come at a break-neck pace, but the punch lines aren't the only hilarious aspects. Little touches such as Gretchen's dad being the inventor of Toaster Strudels and Regina's MTV obsessed little sister are details that will inspire laughter long after the movie is over. Even the particulars about the background characters should provide endless chuckles (just try to think about Trang Pak, the girl in wheelchair and her little person-sidekick, and the Middle-Eastern, hip-hop-obsessed mathlete/"Bad-Ass MC" after the movie without smiling).
If there's anything to complain about in this film, it's the overt sexualization of teenage girls. Of course, the actresses are older than they play, with the exception of Lohan (who, at 17 years old, brings an R. Kelly-like meaning to "The Parent Trap"). Parents might see the Disney-friendly actress in the trailers and bring their young children, but this movie is not for those under high school age (girls are called "sluts" and "whores" throughout). However, that doesn't mean anyone who's older than the class of 2004 shouldn't check "Mean Girls" out. Fey, Waters, and the entire cast have made sure the experience will be enjoyable for everyone.
Though my own high school days are well behind me now, this film
received enough acclaim that I was convinced to give it a try. Mean
Girls did in fact prove to be a rewarding experience. The film made a
ton of money and launched some of its young stars into orbit.
Our story deals with a previously home-schooled girl (Lohan) now having to brave a suburban high school for the first time. She is completely clueless as far as what it takes to be cool in this new world, but she is pretty enough to catch the attention of the most popular girls in the school. The "Plastics" as they are called take the young lady into their world and over time she becomes one of them. The more popular the young lady becomes, the more miserable her life becomes, however.
The film is very funny and it hits pretty hard with its depictions of the various cliques at modern high schools. Some would argue that the characters in this film are just stereotypes, but so are most real life high schoolers. Nearly everyone fit into one category or another even back in my school days, but things seem even more fragmented now.
Tina Fey has written an intelligent script, and thankfully the film was cast well enough to carry it. Lindsay Lohan is charming, but nothing too exceptional. Rachel McAdams pretty much steals this film, and she is likely the cast member who will have the best career of this bunch. I think it's safe to say her scream toward the end of act 2 is the best I've ever heard in any film.Lacey Chabert is also worth mentioning, and she seems worthy of some better roles in the future. Overall, there did not seem to be any casting problems.
Mark Watters keeps things moving along at a brisk pace, and it seems strange to see Lorne Michaels' name in the credits of any film this funny. From what I've heard, the film had to be trimmed of more than a few parts that would have given it in an R-rating. BOO!!!!!! Hard to argue with the box office totals, though! After watching this film, I was reminded of a similar group of popular girls at my high school. They called themselves the Senior Bitch Patrol, and behaved much the same way as the "Plastics." Only back then (88-91) it was mostly about the hair. The bigger the hair, the more popular the girl. All of these girls have gone on to live boring and pointless lives since those days. Go figure....
9 of 10 stars for Mean Girls. Too bad I never had any math teachers as pretty as Tina Fey!
"Mean Girls" is a fun movie that can be enjoyed thoroughly by the adult
set as well as its seeming target audience, teens. The flick opens up
with Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) embarking on her first day of the
jungle that is high school ever as she has been home-schooled in Africa
her whole life. After some initial bumps in the road, she manages to
befriend two "artsy" misfits, Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel
Franzese). Surprisingly, however, she is also quickly welcomed into the
Plastics, a group of uber-popular girls who seem to be simultaneously
admired and resented by all. On Janis's urgings, Cady infiltrates the
Plastics, and her mission becomes personal when the Plastics leader,
Regina (Rachel McAdams), stabs Cady in the back.
"Mean Girls" is indeed an exaggerated version of reality, but its depiction of the brutality and ridiculousness of high school and the need to find and stay true to oneself within a social construct manage to ring true. It does not stray away from or gloss over the dark humor that high school inevitably draws out nor is it apologetic in its over-the-topness. The result is a hilarious, well-written/performed film that is unpredictable and worth seeing.
Lindsay Lohan shows us once again that not only is an actress with range and a deft comedienne, she is also extremely likable and charismatic. Other stand-out performances go to Caplan and Franzese as well as Tina Fey (who plays a teacher), Amanda Seyfried (as one of the Plastics, Karen), and McAdams. McAdams, probably best known as the title character in "The Hot Chick", is an actress who continues surprise me with her great comedic skills (don't believe me? Watch her deleted scenes from "The Hot Chick" DVD. I liked them better than the whole movie!!).
All in all, this flick is great fun and more well-done than might be initially expected!
Mean Girls isn't your average teen comedy, which you can tell are
written by adults who have no insight into the social politics that
revolve around teenage life, and who consequently divide everyone into
two groups - cool (jocks and cheerleaders) and uncool (goths and
science nerds). And it is this inherent understanding of teen life,
that writer Tina Fey has applied to the film which makes it stand out,
and such a pleasure to watch.
Cady Herron (played by Lindsay Lohan) is starting her first day of school - and she's 16. She's been home-schooled all her life (in Africa), and is totally unprepared for and untutored in the ways of an American high school. She quickly befriends Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese), two of the biggest social outcasts in school. However, after a chance encounter in the canteen with the plastics (teen royalty), otherwise known as Regina George (Rachel Macadams), Gretched Wieners (Lacey Chabert) and Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried), Cady's world begins to change dramatically as she is sucked in by the rules and cliques of Girlworld.
The dialogue in the film is sharp and witty, not the OTT Dawson's Creek or O.C. teen-speak. The teenagers actually look like teenagers, not like 30 year olds playing teenagers. And what holds the film together are the great performances from the actors. They're all perfect. Lindsay Lohan is perfect as Cady, the clueless girl who gets a taste of popularity and has to have more. Lizzy Caplan is a revelation as Janis, a punk character who would be sidelined either as a freak, or as a candidate for a makeover, in any other teen movie. But it is the actresses who play the plastics who truly stand out. Lacey Chabert is ideal as Gretchen, the insecure, 2nd-in command girl, who fakes her friendship with Regina just to be considered popular. Amanda Seyfried, as the ultimate dumb blonde Karen, has impeccable comic timing. And rising Hollywood star Rachel Macadams, as Regina George, is the stand-out in the film as the manipulative bitch who has to stay on top at all costs.
Mean Girls isn't just a film for teen girls and gay guys. Most of my (straight) male friends love it, and everyone I know who's seen it recognises elements of the film and the characters from their own secondary school experiences. Mean Girls is, as Gretchen would say (in keeping with "British" slang, even though I'm English and the term just doesn't exist!), that the film is just So Fetch.
I knew nothing of this movie before I saw it. In fact I only went to
see because I have a crush on Lindsay Lohan and I really liked her in
Freaky Friday. So it was quite a payoff when it turned out to be quite
fun film and nothing like the dreadful teen comedies we've suffered too
much off in the past five years (making love to pies, losing ones' car
and certain Scary Movies).
The story has Cady Heron go through her first day of school...at sixteen. She's been homeschooled all her life and lived with her parents in the African bush. She has known nothing of the deceitful, backstabbing and ugly world of high school. Upon arrival she makes friends with a level-headed goth and a fat guy gay. They instruct her on who is naughty, nice and full of vice. The 'in' group of the school are 'The Plastics' (because they're so fake), a trio of cheerleaders who make everyone's life hell.
The leader is Regina George, the nastiest girl in the universe and at her side and the dumb and airheaded Gretchen Wieners and Karen Smith (played by the impossibly cute Amanda Seyfried). In order to take them down Cady must become one of them. She takes great pride in ruining Regina only to take her place. Much like Arnie did in Predator, she became a monster in order to destroy a monster.
With loads of observational humor and satire, Mean Girls ends up being a very intelligent movie, sort of a 'Clueless' that's not so nineties. A lot of attention is paid to character and performance, not something hastily thrown together and chucked out there. Originally it ended up with an R rating and had to be toned down. I would have loved to see that cut of the film.
Another interesting thing is that I've always though Lindsay Lohan looked like the character of Ginny in Friday the 13th Part 2. So it was weird when the movie was featured in Mean Girls and had Cady startle her pals watching it by bursting through the door as soon as Jason bursts through the window.
I will probably buy this on DVD when it comes out and I suggest you see it on the big screen. My showing was pretty packed and everyone seemed to enjoy it a lot.
Had I seen the film a year, a month, a week or even a day earlier, I
wouldn't have appreciated it as much as I did today when I was sitting
in a small university auditorium, relating what I saw to the issues
discussed by the professor prior to the projection, trying arduously to
control the flow of thoughts and emotions in my brain.
Mean Girls is what a large number of people would consider a silly teen comedy. It tells the story of a previously home-schooled, brought up in Africa, adolescent who enters a cliquish high school environment. Essentially the film focuses our attention on a number of psychological issues touched in almost every similar teen movie. In the beginning the issue is adaptation to a new environment, and as the movie unfolds it centers on social cliques, female friend relationships, social prejudice, social influence, rivalry, or as the professor I heard put it - relational aggression.
What is especially interesting about the movie, in my opinion, is that it illustrates an unbelievably highly stratified societal group, and thus helps the viewer unequivocally identify with and easily take a stand on the issues discussed. Metaphorically it serves as a microscope for us to observe social interactions with. Moreover the actions of the protagonists are so blatantly right or wrong that they eliminate any ambiguity that might arise of considering the things happening in another environment or under other circumstances. That way the viewer simply focuses on the darkest characteristics of female interactions in society. In this sense the film is not about adolescent girls and their experiences in high school but rather about the most negative features of female friend relations in adolescence.
The very same genuineness of the film makes it so hilarious at many points. What prevents us from laughing at the ridiculous social trends, prejudices, and many people's beliefs, most possibly including ours, in reality is that our actual emotions and thoughts rarely come up to the surface. Even our actions in most situations are covert. Yet, paradoxically, our way of thinking is shaped by society which constitutes of other people who are also as secretive in this sense as we are. And this covert way of feeling and thinking contributes greatly to the growth of prejudice, misunderstanding, and ... meanness.
Revealing a prejudice I hold, I have always believed that the single most important objective of a film is to provide food for thought. That is why I think this teen comedy ranks among the best ones I have seen recently.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although this movie is no Heathers in its cruelness it still has comical wit
and crass jokes. The movie basically takes a girl who has never been to
public school until she was 16, as she's been in Africa with her parents,
and throws her into to her Junior year of high school. Now that in itself
is a decent plot that can either lead to a movie full of wisely placed
cracks or a horrible flop. This film is much more the former.
The cast of actresses does a decent enough job, and they do have enough timing to deliver punchlines with an effective manner. One of the best parts however is Tim Meadows of Saturday Night Live, who is the principal of the high school. His dry style blends well into the movie to provide a great relief from the cliche jokes that can inhabit a film like this.
Another great aspect is the subtle political jokes thrown in this movie, knocking how kids in our society are raised by MTV and it's idea of what is cool. The jabs aren't a main part of the movie but I found extremely funny.
The movie has the trite ending as you would expect of a film like this, however there is enough unexpected parts of the film that it doesn't really subtract from the film as an enjoyable experience. So even though the film seems like it would be a pile of steaming dog mess, it isn't. It's a well blended strawberry margarita on a lazy Sunday afternoon at the beach. Definitely worth a watch.
Rosalind Wiseman wrote the novel that Tina Fey adapted for the screen.
The result, "Mean Girls" is a statement about what it's like to be a
student going through high school today. In fact, it presents an ugly
side about how school, a place for lasting friendships, camaraderie,
and just a place for learning is everything but that, according to what
one witnesses. In fact, in order to navigate its cliques and groups,
one needs a route map in order not to offend anyone. "Mean Girls" is
directed by Mark Waters, who gives it a light touch.
At the center of the story we find Cady, a newly arrived girl who has lived in Africa and has been taught by her parents. Since they are back in the country, they enroll their daughter so she can have the experience of mixing with her peers. Cady, who is a sweet and naive girl unexposed to the real world, finds friendship with a pair of unpopular students, Janis Ian and Damian.
Cady is guided through the ropes by her new friends who suggest to her to penetrate the world of the "Plastic" trio who are the local fashionistas in their school. These young women live to dress for school; instead of studying, the trio has their own set of rules, which totally confuses Cady, who adapts, but she has no feeling for her new acquired friends.
Cady makes the mistake of liking one of the Plastics former boyfriend, the hunky Aaron. When she confesses it to Gretchen, this one tells her that is a no-no according to an unknown code of conduct because Aaron is Regina's former boyfriend, and she is to stay away from him. Cady excels in math, but she decides to play dumb in order to have Aaron like her. That develops into more than friendship until Regina intervenes.
"Mean Girls" will be loved by teen age girls, the audience for which the film is targeted. Lindsay Lohan is immensely appealing as the newly arrived Cady. Rachel McAdams and Lacey Chabert are Regina and Gretchen, respectively. Tina Fey plays one of the teachers in the school who is wrongly accused of being involved in drugs.
The film is fun to watch thanks to the young and talented cast in it.
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